Q: “What is Your Position on Slavery?”

Well, I suppose I have to be impolitic here and just go with the truth.  But let me prevaricate a little bit and remind all that my job is to make amoral (non moral, non-introspective) arguments.  So I am not going to satisfy your moral intuition’s needs for confirmation in this essay.

[C]ooperation between relative equals is so disproportionately rewarding that it is difficult not to make use of it.

Cooperation is not universally valuable, even if possible, because at some point the differences between the parties mean that there is nothing of value that they can exchange (the degree to which this is pervasive in the world is why we end up with classes and castes.) (

Cooperation is not universally possible because if there is a marginal difference in suppression of free riding (parasitism) then agreements that yield productive results are not possible. (Russia/Iran)

Cooperation is not possible if the others are not capable of cooperating (Pygmys).

Cooperation is sometimes undesirable if cooperation may lead to one’s eventual extermination. (this happens even if you will eventually be out-competed by what appears to be mutually beneficial cooperation.) (american indians)

Cooperation is not possible if the other party is intent on your displacement, conquest, conversion, out-breeding, or extermination. (Palestinians)

Paternalism (managed evolution / colonialism / rule) of those who are either not valuable to cooperate with, or not possible to cooperate with, or deadly to cooperate with can possibly provide returns if you can afford to produce them.

Paternalism (managed evolution / colonialism / rule) is only preferable if in the long term, you do sufficient good and insufficient harm, that the population, once evolved, will not harm you, and will persist in trading with you, and you will obtain long term rewards from that cooperation. (India)

If Paternalism (managed evolution) is not possible because the others are not capable of cooperation, or you cannot afford to evolve them, and you can ignore them, then ignoring them is the cheapest solution.

If you cannot ignore them, cannot evolve them, and cannot cooperate with them, then you can conquer or exterminate them.

If you cannot afford to conquer or exterminate them, then they will defeat you.

– We can exterminate those who threaten us.
– We can resist conquerors and superior competitors.
– We can trade with peers.
– We can evolve non-peers.
– We can protect (treat as pets) the non threatening.
– We can ignore those who are irrelevant.

The problem with slavery is that it’s very expensive to police sentient creatures whose dominance hierarchy we cannot assume leadership of.

Any potential slave is of better utility in the voluntary organization of production (the market) than he is in the involuntary organization of production.

It’s fairly expensive to take care of pets. (Pygmys, Primitives). But the alternative is to lose all future potential from them, and often, lose the value that they bring to existence. (Giraffe’s and Elephants).

It’s fine to make pets from non-sentients as long as we don’t cause them to suffer – even if they would prefer to be independent, sometimes the alternative to being a pet is extinction (tigers).

It is very hard to imagine non-threatening sentients that we cannot ignore.

[S]o in this list I cannot see the wisdom of involuntary slavery, unless somehow we make the case the slavery is a less expensive alternative to extermination. (And that, I think, is a hard argument to make. Bullets are cheap after all.)

Now if we were to return to agrarian poverty in the next thousand years, the economics of slavery MIGHT invert. (although that is hard to imagine). We forget that serfdom emerged out of a labor shortage, and starvation may have increased further without it as a means of the involuntary organization of production.

Moreover, humans have the same problem with slavery as we do with random abuse, with domestic abuse, with animal abuse, and even with abuse of physical commons, and normative commons:

in-group people who do that are dangerous to us as well.

So I don’t want to see slavery (in the plantation model, not the greek model) because I understand that it leads to retaliation.

If you want to raise people as pets and treat them as pets, you know, I am not so sure I have a problem with that.

If you want to raise people through paternalism, I am not only ok with it, but it appears to be necessary.

If you want to exterminate people, I am perfectly OK with that, as long as it’s because they are impossible to cooperate with and survive.

But as far as I know, slavery doesn’t produce any end worth it’s cost. (Today).

So that is an AMORAL argument fully constructed from rational incentives without appeal to introspection.

Curt Doolittle
The Propertarian Institute
Kiev, Ukraine.

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